Doorstop, Kwinana South Bush Fire Brigade

Media doorstop
Stronger Communities Program, Nuclear power stations, Production tax credit incentive.

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: It’s a delight to be here today at the Kwinana South Fire Brigade. I’m here today to have a look around this magnificent relatively recently built station, supported by DFES and the WA state government but also to acknowledge one of our great programs of government – the Stronger Communities Program – that has put $20,000 into building some more facilities out the back of this fire brigade station so that all the volunteers and the working firefighters can relax after they’ve gone into the challenges of looking after this beautiful environment around us here in Kwinana. 

And while I’m here I just want to say a couple of things about a couple of other issues in the media today. Firstly, I want to talk a little bit about Peter Dutton’s plan for nuclear energy in this country. Peter Dutton, the Liberals and the Nationals have failed to let Australia know where they intend to put these nuclear power plants. And given that we are today in Kwinana and Kwinana is, indeed, an industrial heartland for Western Australia, it would be a pretty good guess that this is the kind of place – exactly the kind of place – where Peter Dutton who put a nuclear power plant. And it just goes to show how out of touch Peter Dutton is with the people of Western Australia and certainly the people of Rockingham and Kwinana where he thinks he can pretend like no-one is listening to where these locations might be. And we know very well that Kwinana and places like Kwinana and Fremantle will be on the Liberals’ target list for a nuclear power position. And the other thing I want to mention is about the Liberals and Peter Dutton talking up their business credentials. Well, can I say, nothing could be further from the truth. What we know in the resources sector is the critical minerals and rare earths industry has been working with the government for some time on a production tax credit incentive because they know that’s what they need to get this emerging industry off the ground to provide for Australia’s prosperity but also for our trading partners’ futures as well. Yet Dutton, Mr Dutton, and Angus Taylor the shadow treasurer have completely written this program off. They are anti-Western Australian and anti-resources. And I call upon those Liberals and those Nationals who have critical minerals and rare earths mines and other projects in their electorates to call on their leaders to fix the mess they are making that is running against the resources industry in this country. And I’ll let this truck pass, and then we’ll take some questions. 

JOURNALIST: Minister, could I just start and just go back to nuclear power for a minute, I think the – my understanding is that they were talking about, you know, wherever you’re going to get a coal-fired power station retired. That’s why there’s been a lot of discussion about Collie, for argument’s sake. Are you calling on Dutton and the Liberals to make – you know, to come clean: where are they proposing to build them? Is that what you’re saying? If they are, where are they proposing to build them? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Yeah, well, they have said they would build them. So I’m absolutely calling on Peter Dutton and other Liberals and Nationals to come clean on exactly where these nuclear power stations would be. They have said Collie, that is right. And I note the member for O’Connor, Rick Wilson, is entirely supportive of putting a nuclear power plant in Collie. Well, I’m not so sure that the people of Collie but, moreover, the people only an hour away in Bunbury and Margaret River – you know, the finest wine region in the world in my humble opinion – will now be within striking distance of a nuclear power plant if Mr Dutton and the member for O’Connor have their way. So it’s time to come clean. The alternatives to Collie are places like Kwinana, which is the industrial strip not far from where we are today. And the people of Kwinana and Fremantle and Rockingham, they deserve to know what Peter Dutton has in store for them. 

JOURNALIST: Because he’s saying today that the 2030 targets you’re never going to get there, you know, and that basically you can’t shut down coal, you know, you need alternatives basically. You can’t just shut down coal and rely on renewables. What’s your position on that? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: The Liberal and Nationals parties’ decades of denial makes all targets harder to reach. There’s no doubt about that. These are two parties of government that failed to recognise, failed to admit, the dangers of climate change. Indeed, their critical minerals strategy never even made the link between the need for critical minerals and rare earths in green technology. And now they want to say they’ve got the answers. Well, where were they? You know, 10, 15 years ago, where were they in this space? They were absolutely absent. So I’m very confident we will meet our targets. We have to have targets because we do want to reach net zero. We don’t want to have these, you know, weather events that cause a lot of distress in the community. And we know fire brigades around the country, just like this one here in Kwinana, are at the real front end of dealing with these issues. 

JOURNALIST: One of the big differences – sorry – is the critical minerals production credit, of course. Obviously your government’s initiative. You support that – they don’t. What does that say about the Liberals in WA specifically? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: The Liberals – well, here’s the thing: Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor don’t support the production tax credit. But Libby Mettam, the Leader of the Liberals here in Western Australia, does support production tax credits. Shane Love, the Leader of the Nationals here in WA, does support the production tax credit. Leaders within the critical minerals and rare earth industry all support the production tax credit incentive because they know that’s what’s needed. So Mr Dutton and Mr Taylor are sitting out on their own, you know, with their weird anti-wealth rhetoric that is something I’ve not seen from the LNP I don’t think ever – someone else might remember that – which is just hacking into wealth creators and job makers. So it’s quite an about face for them in terms of how they think of the resources industry. But at its heart what Dutton and Taylor are saying is anti-resources and is anti-Western Australian.

JOURNALIST: Dutton wants Australia’s energy grid to rely heavily on gas as kind of like an interim fuel before nuclear power is available in the 2040s. Is that even feasible? Does Australia have enough gas to kind of supportive that? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, I released the Future Gas Strategy a number of weeks ago. And that is all about setting out the realities for supply and demand for gas in this country. And it is important that gas is a sensible transition tool, but at the same time we have to keep reducing those emissions from gas. And the industry is determined to do that. And I’m determined to make the industry do that, as is this government. We’ve already started that process when we first came into government just over two years ago through the introduction of the safeguards mechanism. So for Western Australia, gas is a really important fuel for industry. But we need to invest in the research to swap that out to hydrogen and other possibilities. But in the meantime we have to accept that it will be part of the future for some time, but also that we have to bring down those emissions relating to gas.

JOURNALIST: Is there any indication on how much that will cost, like, to kind of overhaul and implement that [indistinct]?

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, industry is doing this already firstly as part of the safeguard mechanism because – but that’s what’s demanded of them too. Community expectation around gas production and the use of gas has changed significantly, as well it should because we know we are in a changing climate. So the gas industry is putting the effort in to make sure they do reduce emissions and use other methods such as abatement, lessening of venting and flaring so, you know, wasting gas, I suppose, which is not a good thing and also through carbon capture and storage, which is by no means the whole answer to these problems. 

JOURNALIST: How ambitious – like, looking forward, how ambitious should 2035 targets be? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, I – we’ve set our targets at the moment and we’re going to stick to that. I think that’s a good place to be and that’s what we’re working towards with all our policies, whether it be through the safeguard mechanism, whether it be through the sectoral plans which the government is working on right now. 

JOURNALIST: Do you – you know, we’re talking about WA, and one of the big issues for farmers, of course, is live sheep, you know, and your government has announced in four years that trade will cease. Your colleagues Matt Keogh supported that decision publicly last weekend. Can you give be me your view, please, Madeleine? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, what I want to say and be very clear to those in the industry is I do acknowledge that this is going to be and has been difficult for agriculturists that are involved in the live sheep export industry. This government and before it was in government – we’ve taken this policy to two elections and I think a number of farmers have already, you know, thought how a they would transition out well before we set the date. I do support the policy. It is a policy of our government so of course I support the policy. But I don’t want to be mistaken by any means that I think it’s a simple thing. It’s not a simple thing, and that’s why we had an independent panel of experts that, you know, worked on the transition plan. It is an industry that was in decline, but that doesn’t make it any less hard for those that are still part of that industry. There are opportunities. The government wants to focus on bringing that sheep meat processing here more so in Australia, and we know that there are other opportunities. And it’s been a year – for example, it’s been a year since we signed the Australia-UK free trade agreement and that includes tariff-free sheep meat. So there are opportunities. We will work with the farmers in the industry. And, of course, we’ll work with the state government to make this possible for those farmers. 

JOURNALIST: But it is definitely going to close down in four years? There’s not going to be a deviation in that policy? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: No, we have set the date – May 2028 I believe it is. And we’ll keep working with industry. 

JOURNALIST: Why do you think, as we head towards a May election, we’ve touched on nuclear power and a few other little things already in this, is it going to be harder, do you think, to hold the Liberal seats that you won last election? You know, you won seats that were Liberal seats – 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, they’re all Labor now. 

JOURNALIST: Yeah, sure. So will it be harder to hold them, do you think? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: I think if Peter Dutton continues on this approach of opposing $20 billion of investment in the resources industry by this Federal Government – the single biggest investment in the resources sector of any government’s Budget – well, he will be seen for what he is. 

JOURNALIST: Are you talking about the tax, are you? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: I’m talking about the production tax credit. And, sorry, the extra 3 billion is on the Geoscience Australia. I’m not quite sure where – let’s say it’s 17 billion. It’s very significant, right?

JOURNALIST: Yeah, sure. 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: And it’s long term, too. This is not a splash; this is a long‑term, thoughtful policy developed with industry to also align with what our partners in the US and other like-minded nations want to do to have secure supply chains. So I’m quite confident that we will hold our seats and gain more seats particularly if Peter Dutton keeps up this anti-Western Australian and, surprisingly, anti-resources position. 

JOURNALIST: Gain more seats? 


JOURNALIST: You could actually go, you know, even better? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, I mean, if you think about O’Connor and the fact that the member, Rick Wilson, wants to – well, supports putting a nuclear power plant in there, like, whilst O’Connor would be a very difficult seat for us to win, Nola Marino in Forrest is retiring, and I imagine that there’s opportunities in Forrest because the people of Margaret River and so forth and further south probably don’t want a nuclear power plant in Collie either. 

JOURNALIST: Because he says it’s only billionaires – Peter Dutton says only billionaires will benefit from your minerals production credit. 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, that’s absolutely ridiculous. This is what I’m talking about – this weird class warfare that Peter Dutton is on. Because what we know is that most of this work is done by junior miners, which are far from billionaires; 75 per cent of all mineral exploration and the work in critical minerals is done by junior miners. And I might add, the billionaires to which he refers are small shareholders in a lot of these projects, and we want their capital in these projects. Why wouldn’t we? That’s exactly what this country needs – is for people who have earned money off the traditional parts of the resources sector to inject that capital into an emerging resources sector. 

JOURNALIST: So you don’t think Western Australians’ view of Peter Dutton has necessarily changed? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Absolutely not. Well, this is not going to help. 

JOURNALIST: Or his character has changed? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, you know, he can keep opposing it. But the problem with opposing it in the way that he’s doing is it creates some doubt in the importance of the critical minerals sector. This should be bipartisan, this approach to critical minerals and rare earths, because it’s so vital for our future but also making sure our friends and trading partners can have those secure supply chains of materials that are really hard to come by, but we’ve got most of them here. And we want to build the things. So we want to process them here. 

JOURNALIST: So you don’t think WA will warm to Peter Dutton’s – 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: I do not think WA will warm to Peter Dutton. No, I don’t. Sorry. 

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask some questions about the Beetaloo Basin? 


JOURNALIST: So do you agree with calls from traditional owners and groups and others that Tanya Plibersek should use the water trigger over the Beetaloo’s Canberra-owned resources project? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Sure. The Beetaloo Basin is an important resource. There’s been an extraordinary review undertaken a number of years ago – the Pepper review - which has looked at a lot of the work that’s undertaken in the Beetaloo Basin. Everyone’s voices on this are important, and they’ve been part of that review but also many others, certainly things that are going through the parliament right now. My understanding – and, you know, maybe I’ll be corrected – but at the moment there’s no application for approvals for any production in the Beetaloo. So whilst Tamboran are there and I think Empire Resources are there as well, they’re still just doing testing on that. And whilst there’s some small amounts of gas being produced, it’s not at a large scale. It’s certainly not at production scale by any means. 

JOURNALIST: But is it reasonable that, yeah, the Tamboran Resources doesn’t have to go through any EIS, like, process for expansion of its fracking sites? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Well, any production-scale project in the Beetaloo – or anywhere for that matter, and it wouldn’t really what kind of project, whether it’s gas or iron ore or anything – will have to go through the Environment Minister. So what they’re doing now, which is more about exploration and understanding more of the geology, that will have the relevant approvals. Because, you know, they wouldn’t have to be allowed to do it otherwise. But if they want to advance that, they’ll have to go for further approvals. 

JOURNALIST: And, I guess, companies – it’s already been fined for breaching environmental controls, you know – 


JOURNALIST: So how can they be trusted to self-regulate with issues like this? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Yeah, well, that is a good point, and I’ve seen the fines, and I think they got the cart before the horse there a bit and it’s the wrong thing to do, and they know that and they’re paying the fines, as well they should. Environmental controls are really important for that area, for the whole country, indeed. So any application they put forward I’ve no doubt will, of course, have to address their failures in that regard. And the department and the minister will have to take that all into account when they actually put the application in to expand their operations. 

JOURNALIST: Do you think it could potentially limit their ability to get those applications approved? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: Look, I would be guessing, and I don’t want to do that. These companies have to do the right thing. There’s no doubt about it. They have to consult with the traditional owners. They have to consult with those that are concerned with their operations. So I’ll let that process run out rather than try and pre-empt anything or make guesses. 

SPEAKER: Last questions, guys. All done? 

MINISTER MADELEINE KING: All done? Great. Thanks so much.